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Title: The social and political activity of the Cadbury family : a study in manipulative capitalism
Author: Dowd, Kevin William
ISNI:       0000 0004 2680 5800
Awarding Body: University of Wales, Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2001
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This study had its origins in my Master of Education dissertation analysing the role of the Cadbury family and their business, Cadbury Bros Ltd., in initiating and supporting post elementary educational schemes in the Bournville area of south Birmingham during the inter-war years, schemes which were implemented either as vocational training for their business work force, or which provided a more general schooling at the local authority's Bournville Day Continuation School, many of whose students were also Cadbury employees. However, whilst undertaking this research it became evident that, although both the Cadbury family and business had exercised considerable influence in introducing and sustaining these schemes, this was nevertheless, neither the beginning nor the sum of their involvement in social policy and, indeed, social engineering: it was an involvement which embraced a much wider range of social provision and one which required a far more substantial consideration to reveal the full nature and extent of this Cadbury participation and influence. Accordingly, this research project set out to explore the nature and extent of the social involvement of the Cadburys. It draws on late Victorian and early 20th Century material, including the Cadbury Papers held at Birmingham Central Library, together with contemporary documents at both the Selly Oak Colleges they founded and from many agencies with whom the Cadburys collaborated. The central contention of this thesis is that, throughout this period, the Cadbury family and their close associates exercised a considerable influence on Britain's social and political life. This influence, traditionally either unacknowledged or portrayed as political altruism, had the effect, locally and nationally, of steering both the working class populace and the largest of the newly emerging left wing political parties away from seeking the most radical changes to the existing economic order, in favour of more moderate reforms which left this system not only essentially intact, but even more profitable for industrialists such as the Cadburys. This programme included both establishing their own initiatives and supporting those of other who shared their social and political aims, and had a direct bearing on many areas of the urban populace's life, including education, housing, public health and recreation. This process was in turn facilitated by the desire of leading members of the Cadbury group to adopt a significantly more prominent public profile, as they accepted positions of power within local voluntary and municipal bodies, all of which promoted moderate political perspectives, encouraged belief in the apolitical nature of the state and frequently sought to amend working class behaviour and manipulate their financial insecurities in the interests of both the nation's industrial efficiency and industrialists. Specifically, this programme was instigated to counter the ostensibly increasing physical and mental deterioration of Britain's working class (factory) populace and the apparent weakening of traditional mechanisms of social control, including religion, over this populace, two particularly prevalent perceptions and concerns shared by both the Cadburys and many contemporary social commentators and reformers. Furthermore, this activism had a distinctly national dimension, the Cadbury initiatives being heralded as models for widespread emulation, whilst their financial patronage enabled the policies which formed the essence of their social philosophy to be more effectively pursued, this patronage being of considerable significance in the Liberal Party"s 1906 election victory. Such overt and covert activism effectively established the Cadburys in the vanguard of contemporary social reformers. Indeed, this thesis illustrates the central role and impact of the Cadburys in responding to those developments they perceived as threatening their own and the nation's industrial and financial security, through the implementation of a coherent social programme, complemented and supplemented by the support they provided to a network of interrelated sympathetic politicians and activists.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available